It’s hard to classify the feeling I had, standing there in that dark corridor amidst the screams, fallen bodies, and bullet casings. The first time I pulled the trigger I felt a powerful reservation, as if my subconscious had realized that for the first time in my life I was committing a fundamentally criminal act. For someone who feels vaguely guilty about jaywalking, it was a sudden and unforeseen escalation.
But the second time I pulled that trigger – and the second time that cold metal recoiled in my hands – I felt something else. It was a strange euphoria, the kind one gets after watching Rambo movies or playing too many of those violent video games we keep hearing about. “You are a man with a gun,” it seemed to whisper, “so stick it to them and fight the system! For all those speeding tickets! For auditing your last tax return! For the HST!”
BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
Now, before anyone gets too excited, I should probably mention that I was taking part in a police training exercise, and my gun was loaded with blanks. The “bodies” on the floor were either mannequins or actors, and the “dark corridor” was inside an abandoned elementary school converted into a training facility. As real as the situation felt to me, it was in fact a carefully controlled simulation designed to test officer tactics and response. I was only pretending to shoot at police officers, just as they were only pretending to shoot at me, which is probably why I’m still around to tell you about it.
And what is “it,” exactly?
According to Abbotsford Constable Pete Quaglia, it’s called “Immediate Action Response and Deployment Training,” or, more simply, “Active Shooter Training.” It marks a revolution in police procedure, one brought about by the 1999 Columbine massacre. “In the past,” Quaglia explained, “police practice has always been based on a theory known as ‘containment and call-out’… Before, the [recommended] action was to get there at the scene and control the scene as much as possible and wait there for the special teams to move in. But by the time the special units were notified, coordinated their efforts, got their resources and moved in you could be looking at an hour of staging time before things actually started. And that’s a long time, right? When someone’s actively shooting people, that’s a long time.”
The Active Shooter program reflects a change in official policy, and trains police officers to respond in situations like Columbine without waiting for SWAT back-up. “Now,” Quaglia asserted, “if the police respond and the subject is actively shooting and actively killing people – murdering people – then rather than waiting until everything stops and it’s essentially deemed somewhat safe to move in, the police automatically respond. They go in and locate the subject or subjects and they neutralize them. They deal with the threat; they stop the shooting; they stop the killing.”
So really, by pretending to shoot at police officers I am actually aiding the police in their ceaseless quest to make Abbotsford a better, safer place. That’s a noble cause if I’ve ever seen one, right up there with donating blood and bottle-feeding stray kittens. And the best part is that the police are looking for more volunteers! So if any of you feel the need to pander to your inner psychopath or just run screaming through the dark like the expendable third wheel in a Resident Evil movie, then sign up. Give back to the community, have fun, and develop a healthy respect for the men and women in blue who protect you from people like me, or at least the darker elements in my subconscious.
Volunteer at http://abbotsfordpolicetraining.webs.com/. Each session is 3-4 hours long, and requires a fair amount of physical fitness.